Keith Thurman: My Life As The Defending Welterweight Champion

On Saturday night current WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman will defend his title against Shawn Porter live and in primetime on CBS. In advance of one of the biggest bouts of their lives, Thurman and Porter are sharing their stories from a first-person perspective in CBS Local Sports’ ‘My Life As’ series.  

Me and Shawn, we aren’t ‘pen pals’. We’re not messaging each other back and forth on a monthly basis or anything like that. But, to a degree, whenever I see Shawn and other people that I grew up with in the amateur ranks, I do feel like it’s a little high school reunion type thing because we were in high school when we were all competing at that time as amateurs.

So, you know, seeing him across the ring on Saturday night, it’s going to remind me a little bit of the last time I saw him across the ring, which was in sparring. But, when I make a fist, and I feel the weight of the 8 oz. gloves instead of the 20 oz. gloves that I had on the last time me and Shawn were in the ring together, that’s going to be the major difference. 

Me and Shawn, we’ve punched each other for free before. To be doing it on this stage together, it’s an honor.

 

I’m truly looking forward to the performance – the platform and the arena – there’s a lot to look forward to. This is a very significant fight for myself and my career, but in the ring I won’t be worried about any of that. 

To be in the ring is to be in my element. To have a spectator is simply that: a spectator. The performer performs and the spectator, spectates – they look from the outside in. The way I look at this fight is, it’s just a perfect matchup. You’ve got Shawn Porter – who is always aggressive and always makes an entertaining fight. Then you’ve got me, who always comes to perform and is always looking to hurt his opponent.

I really enjoyed doing the premiers that I did last year on ESPN for Premier Boxing Champions (PBC), so doing another premier for PBC on CBS, I’m just grateful, man.

Al Haymon has a great plethora of fighters upon which, anyone would have been happy to take this opportunity and open up the show for this network. And it was already significant when they did the announcement and now with Muhammad Ali’s passing, it’s just really remarkable. I’m going to do my best to perform and give you guys one of those classic fights that the fans used to see – the old time fans, you know, 40 years ago – way before my time.

I just want to show you guys a good old-school boxing match, man. I think there’s gonna be a lot of action and we’re looking forward to it. 

My biggest advantage over Shawn, in my opinion, is my ability to be diverse and to do what’s necessary to gain victory. I have a small reach advantage that should come in handy in the fight as well. But the real advantage I have is the way I think as a fighter and how I’m always seeking to solve the problem as soon as possible. So when somebody presents a challenge in front of me, as long as it is a challenge, then I make the adjustment to get rid of it and overcome. 

Little late night run to keep my mind and body on track for my upcoming fight. #OneTime #ThurmanPorter

A photo posted by Keith Thurman Jr. (@keithonetimethurman) on

 

For me, the most impressive thing that Shawn does is the way that he works. He works extremely hard. He pushes himself and he’s always trying to get the best out of himself and he pushes the person he’s in the ring with. He tries to make them feel uncomfortable.

I’d say his overall athletic ability is going to be a key point for him along with how he uses his it. He can get really low and it takes tremendous leg strength to get as low as Shawn likes to get and he constantly pushes forward. I know it’s not a very common technique and it has been used before in the past. Tyson was one to bring his head real low, constantly bobbing and weaving, moving forward and throwing off of his movement. 

But it takes tremendous leg strength for Shawn to get that low and constantly move forward so that might be one of the most impressive things that I’ve seen from him and his camp. That’s why I just don’t see any way this can not live up to the hype. This is one that really should. 

As big as this fight is, the shadow that Floyd Mayweather cast over the welterweight division is way too large and it’s gonna take dominating for the next five years to recognize somebody as another Mayweather. You cannot replace a man that was on top for over a decade with one fighter, with one fight, with one title match. It can’t be done. 

It’s preposterous to try and replace a $100 million fighter like Floyd Mayweather over night. You can’t replace a $100 million fighter with a $2 million, $3 million, $5 million, $20 million fighter. So when people ask me about the next Mayweather in boxing – my opinion is, enjoy the show boxing fans. The new king of the welterweight division will present themselves in time. Until then, enjoy the show, you’re gonna get great fights. You’ve got tons of great fighters that are willing to fight each other right now.

It’s way better than what it once used to be if you ask me. Because you’ve got Bob Arum making the statement that he’s willing to do negotiations with Al Haymon. I think boxing is making a very big turnaround right now. 

For me in my life and what I’ve been doing and all of my accomplishments in the world of boxing, they all stem from living the American dream. That’s all that I ever wanted to do was try to make my dreams come true. I’m truly blessed to be in a beautiful country, I’m truly blessed to have had a mentor like Ben Getty at an early age. He devoted so much of his time and his money and his love towards me. 

 

Even to this day, I always hear his voice tell me, ‘first round, go out there and hit them with your power, show them what you’ve got. Make them fear you. Once they fear you, they’ll hesitate. And once you’ve got them hesitating, you might as well just get them out of there.’ For me, I will always remember his words of advice. Ben Getty was very adamant with me about how important the networks are. That every fighter’s dream is to build themselves up and become a household name.

I’m truly grateful for where I am in the sport of boxing today, for the position I hold with the WBA world title, but we’re definitely not done and there’s more work to do in making Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman a household name.  

So come Saturday night, it’s fight night. And I look forward to meeting Shawn Porter on fight night and for him to get a taste of Keith Thurman. It’s one thing to work with each other, it’s another thing to work against each other, and that’s what will be happening on Saturday night in Brooklyn.  

Tune in to CBS on Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. PT) for the welterweight championship bout between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. 

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